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3 Ways Porn Drove Me and My Partner Apart and Killed Our Sex Life

“Pornography. That word makes every ounce of my being shudder. I don’t really hate a lot of things, but this, this I hate.”

By December 4, 2020June 10th, 2021No Comments
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This article was originally posted on a Fighter’s personal blog. It has been reposted with permission and edited for content and length.

Many people contact Fight the New Drug to share their personal stories about how porn has affected their life or the life of a loved one. We consider these personal accounts very valuable because, while the science and research is powerful within its own right, personal accounts from real people seem to really hit home about the damage that pornography does to real lives.

We continually encourage couples to make decisions about their relationship that’s best for them. Sometimes, that choice is to go their separate ways, and sometimes, that choice is to stay and support each other through the struggles porn brings. It all depends on the couple, and we respect the decisions people make for themselves. There’s no “correct” answer—every relationship is different.

Dear FTND,

Pornography. That word makes every ounce of my being shudder. I don’t really hate a lot of things, but this—this I hate.

Now, I didn’t always use to have such a strong reaction to pornography. In fact, I used to watch it; both by myself (before getting married) and then with my husband. I was under the impression, like so many others, that pornography helps to enhance our sex lives. But, man, can I tell you thinking that way is a straight-up lie. Pornography is a straight-up lie. It almost ruined our marriage. Pornography wreaked havoc on my self-esteem, devastated our sex life and destroyed trust between my husband and me.

1. Watching porn fosters a negative self-image

Every single part of who I thought I was changed. I no longer felt vibrant and lovable; I never felt good enough. He wanted to watch some other women do sexual acts instead of being with me. I often thought I needed to look like a porn star and act like a porn star just so he would notice me. I felt like an object. I was only there to be pretty and fulfill every sexual need. I distinctly remember asking him one time if I was better than porn. Of course, he said yes. But, of course, I couldn’t believe it.

Over the years, I tried to “win” his affection back by competing against what he liked to watch. I would see that he liked stripper type stuff, so I would dress up and give a show. Wow, what that did to me was horrendous. It is something that I struggle with to this day, to this minute, this very second. Who I was before this affected us, is definitely not who I am now.

Related: How Watching Porn Can Give You Warped Self-Image And Low Self-Esteem

Podcast - Garrett and Sabrina - Dark

2. More porn can lead to less sex

You know, a lot of people think that introducing porn into their sex life is something that will “spice it up.” Yet, there we were, not having a whole lot of sex anymore.

There were these expectations that I felt I had to live up to. Having sex with him was a show. I felt like I had to perform exactly like the women he watched. The true intimacy that a husband and wife should have, was nowhere to be found which made it difficult to really engage. I couldn’t be vulnerable with him. I couldn’t really “feel” during that act. I no longer enjoyed sex, I no longer wanted him to touch me and I did not want to touch him. Over time, I related having sex with my husband to something negative. That was bad.

Not only did it affect our marriage at that point in time, but it continues to affect our marriage even now. I have had to work through a lot of negative to become available, emotionally and physically, to my husband again.

3. Watching porn can break relationship trust

One of the most important things in a relationship is trust. When he was addicted to porn, there was no trust. He constantly would tell me lies to cover it up. I remember the first time that we talked about it. He simply responded that it was no big deal and that every man does it. So, I simply set it aside and let it go. I even allowed it in our bedroom together.

Related: Is Watching Porn Cheating On Your Partner?

But over time, it felt worse and worse. The distance between became greater. So, that ended. Then, I found out again that he was watching porn on his own; which is silly because I knew the whole time. I felt not good enough and second-rate. I was hurt. I asked him to stop and he agreed. But at this point I didn’t believe him. I would go through his phone, the computer, our television just to see what he watched or looked up. The smallest thing would set me off. (FTND note: we do not encourage people to snoop on their partners.)

Lo and behold the third time came around. This was the boiling point. I felt betrayed. I was done. The little trust that was left was shattered into pieces. Gone.

Stop The Demand - guava

This boiling point sent us over the edge. There was an ultimatum now: stop looking at porn or leave. Thankfully, my wonderful husband chose help.

So, there we were, both trying to do right by each other. I can say that everything was roses right away, but that’s a lie. This road to recovery for us was a long and difficult one. This road to recovery is something that we both struggle with daily. He has to daily commit to make me his only eye candy.  I have to commit daily to trust him. There are times that we fail, well because we’re human of course.

Now, three years later and we’re on the other end, our marriage has never been stronger.

Ruff Family Circus blog

Fortify

Porn drives a wedge in relationships

Unfortunately, this woman’s story is as common as it is heartbreaking. This is why we fight for real relationships, and real love.

We get thousands of emails and messages from spouses all across the world who describe this exact same experience. Porn kills love is not just some catchy slogan for our movement, it is a reality.

Related: Can Porn Improve An Intimate Relationship?

Decades of research from respected institutions supported by countless personal accounts from people all over the world confirm that porn is, in fact, not harmless, and we wouldn’t be doing society a service by saying it is. All someone has to do is evaluate the existing research on porn to understand that this issue is bigger than what you might normally hear about porn being a tool to “express sexuality” or “spice up relationships.” Here are just a few sources to consider when evaluating the harmful effects of porn:

• Two highly respected pornography researchers from the University of Alabama, Jennings Bryant and Dolf Zillmann, studied the effects of porn and media for more than 30 years. Their findings conclude that consuming pornography can make an individual less satisfied with their partner’s physical appearance, sexual performance, sexual curiosity, and affection. What’s more, some individuals felt not just dissatisfied, but critical of these aspects of their partner.

• A 2012 study by Amanda Maddox and her team concluded that individuals who never viewed sexually-explicit material reported higher relationship quality (on every measure) compared with those who viewed the same explicit material on their own. [2]

• In one of the few studies to follow married couples and their pornography consumption for several years, researchers found that porn did, in fact, harm relationship quality and satisfaction. The researchers concluded:

“In general, married persons who more frequently viewed pornography in 2006 reported significantly lower levels of marital quality in 2012… Pornography’s effect was not simply a proxy for dissatisfaction with sex life or marital decision-making in 2006. In terms of substantive influence, the frequency of pornography use in 2006 was the second strongest predictor of marital quality in 2012.”

• A new study published in 2017 examined the impact of couples where one partner consumes more porn than the other—which is a pretty common pattern. The researchers concluded that “greater discrepancies between partners in pornography use were related to less relationship satisfaction, less stability, less positive communication, and more relational aggression.” [3]

Related: How It Feels To Finally Be In A Relationship With Someone Who Doesn’t Watch Porn

Study after study has shown that contrary to popular belief, porn itself is bad news for long term relationships. Not an unsupportive and porn-disapproving partner, but the porn itself. The majority of research reflects that porn negatively affects satisfaction within the relationship and ultimately can lead a person to withdraw from a loved one.

As porn becomes more normalized, we want to be a source of information pointing out that porn is not harmless. This isn’t a moral argument. This comes down to you and your personal relationships, and the opportunity to make an informed decision about what will make them indefinitely thrive.

Brain Heart World

Shame isn’t a helpful part of the healing process

“Porn Kills Love” is an impactful statement that is meant to spark awareness and motivate a change in perspective in our porn-saturated world. It encompasses, in a simplified statement, what the research is saying about porn’s impact on society as a whole, as well as individuals and their ability and/or desire to healthfully bond with others.

Our declaration is “Porn Kills Love” not that “insert consumer’s name” kills love. We don’t exist to shame consumers into quitting—research shows that doesn’t work. Our message is directed at porn itself, not at the person who consumes it. In fact, consider how most porn consumers have no idea that porn is harmful—and why would they? We live in a world where porn is completely normalized, celebrated, and even promoted.

Related: Here’s Why Those Who Struggle With Porn Aren’t Bad People

Recognizing porn’s harms can inspire a perspective shift that makes porn less appealing, and makes life happier, healthier, and better connected without it—both for individuals and their relationships, and those who are harmed in the production of porn.

No one deserves to feel like they aren’t worth loving. Whether you and your partner decide to fight for the relationship, or go your separate ways, there are resources to help both you and your partner.

FTND note: We continually encourage couples to make decisions about their relationship that’s best for them. Sometimes, that choice is to go their separate ways, and sometimes, that choice is to stay and support each other through the struggles porn brings. It all depends on the couple, and we respect the decisions people make for themselves. There’s no “correct” answer—every relationship is different.

Fortify

Need help?

For those reading this who feel they are struggling with pornography, you are not alone. Check out Fortify, a science-based recovery platform dedicated to helping you find lasting freedom from pornography. Fortify now offers a free experience for both teens and adults. Connect with others, learn about your compulsive behavior, and track your recovery journey. There is hope—sign up today.

Fight the New Drug may receive financial support from purchases made using affiliate links.
Get Help – For Partners

If your partner is struggling with porn, you are not alone—know that there is hope, and there is help. As you navigate this difficult situation, there are supportive communities and resources available to you. Below is a non-exhaustive list of several resources for those experiencing hurt because of their partner’s porn consumption. Note that this isn’t a complete resource list.

Disclaimer: For those who may find themselves involved in this sensitive situation, their responses can differ. This is why resources need to fit the specific needs of whoever is seeking them. Some of these resources are gender-specific, others are religiously-affiliated, others use a variety of approaches. Fight the New Drug is a non-religious and non-legislative awareness and education organization hoping to provide access to resources that are helpful to those who need support. Including this list of recommendations does not constitute an endorsement by Fight the New Drug.

Bloom

Addo Recovery

If this article inspired you to have a conversation with your partner or someone else about porn, check out our step-by-step interactive conversation guide, Let’s Talk About Porn, for tips.

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